Microsoft is Releasing New Tech to Help Remote Workers

Culture Hack

Zeitgeist

Microsoft is Releasing New Tech to Help Remote Workers

Answering the calls of stressed out work-from-homers, Microsoft is launching a new line of audio products that best fit the “hybrid workplace.” From remote learners and telecommunicators to those that have built their own gym in their homes, the products will offer advanced noise cancelling features as well as a new attachable webcam that will offer clearer images, ridding of the infamous grainy camera quality. The ultimate goal of these products is to diminish the stress that has come with tech set up and maintenance during the pandemic. 

 

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Work From Home Expert Is Sought Out in The Corporate World

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Zeitgeist

How the Vaccine Passport Can Change The Way People Interact With Goods and Services

Years before the pandemic hit, Nicholas Bloom gave speeches and even a Tedx speech on work from home culture. As an economics professor at Stanford University, he had advanced insight on the major effects of WFH, most especially that it had the power to change the world. In 2020, Bloom lent his expertise to major companies such as Microsoft and Apple to best advise them on the do’s and don’ts of corporate remote work life. Ultimately, Bloom believes that COVID sped up the journey to something inevitable: a future where work was less of a place and more of a mindset. 

 

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How the Vaccine Passport Can Change The Way People Interact With Goods and Services

Culture Hack

Zeitgeist

How the Vaccine Passport Can Change The Way People Interact With Goods and Services

In preparation for a vaccinated summer, most countries are rolling out vaccine passports: smartphone apps that can confirm that one has been vaccinated and can participate in certain events or even board a plane. While there is much debate about who handles the records and how the information of users is protected, ruling out any government mandated form of the app in US for personal security measures, a few companies have come out to say that they may be relying on the passports to ensure safer business after a year of stillness.

 

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The Future of the 9-to-5: Why Vaccine Rollout Might Not Impact Work From Home Culture Too Much

Culture Hack

Culture Hack

The Future of the 9-to-5: Why Vaccine Rollout Might Not Impact Work From Home Culture Too Much

With the recent widespread availability of vaccines throughout the United States, most have been eager to live a more normal life similar to the one in pre-pandemic days. The standard in-person 9-to-5 workday is an aspect of our culture that was thought to be the most expected return. Employees are excited to be reunited with their team and to finally have their workplace removed from their living spaces. Some companies, however, have different plans for their work base. 

In his annual shareholder letter, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon expanded on his ideal post-pandemic work culture, theorizing that most of Wall Street will be working remotely for a whole. Regarding his own company, Dimon states that at least 10% of JPMorgan will permanently work remotely, the at-home hours facilitated by internet meeting spaces such as Zoom and Cisco. While he did not completely rule out in-person work — also emphasizing that remote work has to work for all of its participants — the CEO did suggest that a hybrid model where employees are allowed to split their time between a set company location and their homes would be the best way to disrupt the mundaneness of WFH will keeping their teams safe. 

U.S. News reported that 44% of people currently working from home will still prefer to work remotely even when vaccines are available and restrictions are lifted.

Though this corporation’s post-pandemic work plan may be surprising to some, many companies are still developing plans that will support the preferences of all their employees. Since last October, Microsoft’s policy has been that half of its employee force could work from home without manager approval, with other tech and social giants like Twitter announcing a similar remote work flexibility. Meanwhile, other corporate giants like Google have announced that all employees will have a maximum of 14 WFH days annually with manager approval. 

When it comes to developing the workspace plan for employees, a few factors come into play. One component is real estate: because the economy took a slight fall during the pandemic, companies might be focusing on minimizing physical space to make for more financial gain. Though they will still have in-person locations, Dimon says JPMorgan will shrink its office spaces into more open seating and less individual offices, theorizing that for every 100 employees a bank will need just 60 seats. 

Another major factor is employee motivation. While some may be excited for in-person life again and eager for the inspiration only office settings bring, others will still be deeply concerned about the pandemic and their personal health. Companies will also have to take into consideration the settings that work best for each type of person; some have succeeded in solitude while others may feel like they cannot continue on any longer remotely. 

Although the vaccines have established a new hope for a healthier world, there are still many uncertainties about the virus. Companies of all sizes should keep in mind that there is always new information circulating around COVID that could benefit or restrict in-person offices. On top of that, the priority of their employees should be their personal and familial health; if a hybrid, remote, or extremely safe in-person work plan will help them maintain that help, their companies will be doing the job of keeping their teams safe. 

So what is the future of the 9-to-5? It is still unclear how the traditional workday will come out of the pandemic. But one thing can be said about the impact of the past year on the workflow; corporations are more aware of their employees’ needs and are willing to break the norm to best support them. 


What’s Your Vax Status: How Vaccines are Turning Into the New Social Stance

Culture Hack

Culture Hack

What’s Your Vax Status: How Vaccines are Turning Into the New Social Stance

When most of the vaccines were approved for public use at the beginning of March, many made their excitement on the drugs’ approvals known including a number of notable public figures. Some even had the privilege of getting their shots early on, documenting their appointments to ease the nerves of their followers. Social media connected the influential with the general public in this monumental step towards the possible end of the pandemic. Although we expect these influential people to be inspiring and to encourage us to be brave, there are some that have used their platforms for honesty and transparency when it comes to the new vaccines.

A seemingly unexpected response on the topic of vaccinations came from Lakers player and basketball superstar LeBron James. NBA commissioner Adam Silver had told the press that he believes most of the players will get the shot, though saying it was still a personal decision to make. When questioned about his own vaccine plans, James suggested that matters such as the shot should be reserved for families rather than something that is promoted and used for headlines. Fans were confused by this statement especially because the NBA has distributed PSAs with some of the most iconic players of the league, such as Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, encouraging people to get vaccinated once allowed to do so. But during a time where the health and safety of someone and their family is of the utmost importance, is it fair that the public demand their opinions?

According to Pew Research, 77% of the U.S. feels that the COVID-19 vaccine will be approved before the safety and effectiveness is fully understood.

Whenever you watch TV or a streaming platform with ads, you will most likely come across a commercial promoting vaccinations. While getting the shots are important for achieving herd immunity and a level of communal health that is functional, the new nature of the medicine has people concerned about how the health they have prioritized for nearly a year and a half will be affected. While the percentage of people saying they will get vaccinated increases daily, the concern remains. Although the promotion of vaccines through celebrity-centric ads may calm some nerves, people could also benefit from knowing that their favorite public figures are handling the situation with similar doubts and fears. 

Rather than vaccination opinions being regarded as the new public political stances, they should be seen as open conversations between those in the public eye and their followers. Some may confuse James’ statement for him being an “anti-vaxxer,” a term heavily weaponized by mainstream media, but he speaks with a transparency that is uncommon. It’s easy for culture makers and companies to constantly promote the new medicine through their platforms but the effort should be put into giving everyone a space to exchange information and to sympathize through common concerns. 

In a time with so much uncertainty about what will help us out of the pandemic and how we can reach a point of safety, it’s unfair to oversimplify something as complex as a first-year vaccine. Rather than treating it as a topic of division between the logical and illogical, we should see it as a step towards a solution that some will have discuss before taking while others are free to do so. 


Black Owned Digital and Creative Agency, Hero Collective Launches New Digital Media Company, Focused on Creating Social Media Communities Around Culture

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News

Black Owned Digital and Creative Agency, Hero Collective Launches New Digital Media Company, Focused on Creating Social Media Communities Around Culture

Black owned digital-first advertising agency, Hero Collective announced the launching of Hero Media Inc. (www.heromediainc.com), a new Digital Media venture focuses on creating new social media platforms and communities around various lifestyle and cultural themes. In the works for over 3 years, Hero Media’s goal is to create communities around specific industries, consumer groups and cultural interests. “It’s no secret that social media isn’t what it used to be, consumers want to engage in the things they are passionate about,” says Hero Media founder, Joe Anthony.

While Hero Media is Black owned, it plans on making media platforms for both the Multicultural and mainstream consumer market, with a focus on Millennial and Gen X. The company has three planned releases this year, with the first being a relaunch of Hero Traveler, a travel-focused social media platform that is being positioned as a competitor to TripAdvisor. Hero Media has also partnered with former Victoria’s Secret Angel and supermodel, Selita Ebanks to release a platform this summer that they’re both calling a women’s wellness network. Finally the company is launching a thought leadership community focused on elevating diverse innovators and disruptors.

Hero Media has also committed to building what they are calling smart platforms. Most of their platforms will be data-led platforms, leveraging proprietary technology that provides both consumer and enterprise level features and solutions. “media has evolved to become more than just ways of receiving information, they have become communities for self-expression, opportunity and commerce, our platforms will be built on technology that turns content into opportunity,” says Len Burnett, the companies Chief Revenue Officer.

Hero Media has already begun discussions with brand and strategic partners and is working on several original entertainment and influencer programs to help launch their platforms. The company has already struck a deal with Bustle Digital Group to syndicate content to help deliver on scale. The company is completely self-funded and will be seeking investment partners starting this summer.


When Supporting Multicultural Groups Be More Than Just a Corporate Trend?

Culture Hack

Culture Hack

When Will Supporting Multicultural Groups Be More Than Just a Corporate Trend?

In 2020, our society was witness to the injustice and inequality against multicultural communities like it had never before been. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain, and so many others brought more attention to the problem of systemic racism that has been prolonged in this country. As a result of protests against institutions that contributed to the vicious cycle of prejudice and destruction, certain industries — including media and advertising — wanted to be part of change and part of a movement to right the wrongs of the present to build a better future. 

With this movement came promises. A commitment to support, promote, and uplift BIPOC-owned businesses that have too often been given the ends of sticks in their fields was established. A dedication to emphasize the talent and importance of minority creators was spread throughout most of the country by corporations. The summer of 2020 was filled with much hope that there could be a halt to systemic prejudice; there could be a world where the historically overlooked trendsetters and pioneers could finally be appreciated. But, like most politically-focused trends, the corporate idea of BLM started to fade out.

During a recent open letter to the public, musical artist and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy Combs” expressed his frustrations with the loss of energy and excitement towards promoting Black-owned media companies. Combs, who has owned media and television company REVOLT for nearly a decade, felt like it was unfair for his company to be used as a model of success for press purposes if it was still struggling for business. “No longer can Corporate America manipulate our community into believing that incremental progress is acceptable action,” stated Combs, re-emphasizing the disappointment in the unfulfilled promises. 

Although the successful rapper and media mogul’s statement has drawn attention to the lack of progress caused by big corporations, the deeply rooted racism is a sign in itself that “progress” really meant more publicity. For decades, BIPOC culture has been seen as the hip and cool trend. The Supremification of our culture has meant that Black culture is now owned and cloned by white companies for personal profit with no intention of uplifting the Black voice. From something as seemingly simple as fashion to something as complex as perspective, BIPOC creators and change makers and always used as inspiration rather than being admired front and center for their contributions to the culture. 

The easiest thing for corporations and big advertisers to do it to showcase the BIPOC culture. Tapping a few buttons on a screen to create a post with the letters “B-L-M” in bold is in effective. Copy and pasting thoughtful words from a Black or Brown creator is simple. Featuring activists and supporting the continued fight that goes into protecting these lives requires connection, understanding, and support. You find it in the commitment to support Black-owned businesses every year, on-boarding those that use their craft for change to promote change, focusing less on the idea of progress and more on the step necessary to make it. 

The cycle of racism has been driven by the convenience of taking culture and suppressing BIPOC voices in the process for too long. Promoting the Black voice can no longer coincide with the intentions of trendsetting. Corporate America needs to recognize that success should be determined by the roles they take up as allies in the journey to progress. You cannot fix the system in one year, let alone one summer. Change needs full dedication and action from those that have had the upper hand all along. 


The Cons of Crypto: What We Need to Keep in Mind as Digital Currency Expands

Culture Hack

Culture Hack

The Cons of Crypto: What We Need to Keep in Mind as Digital Currency Expands

When explained simply, cryptocurrency seems to be the money of the future. It is unaffected by the fluctuations in worldwide currency, can be accessed through the internet (a place where most business and purchasing is done nowadays), and it seems as if major corporations are promoting its use. While this new form of money offers us a new beneficial way to exchange, there may be a few things to keep in mind when getting involved with crypto currency. 

The more people get involved with cryptocurrency, the faster we will find a more standard way of attaining, exchanging, and using them. Until then, however, there are a number of different security and stability concerns that go with investing in these digitized coins. Though they are not reflective of any international trade market, crypto is still pretty volatile. Because it is not a standard form of money, there are always unexpected occurrences in the market that often lead to swift changes in price. It’s common for values to descend by the hundreds — sometimes thousands — in dollar conversions. Another security issue is that there is no real regulation when it comes to crypto: up until now, governments and banks have no real authority on how they are used. 

There is also an issue with hacking in that technical glitches allow more room for people’s accounts to be drained. Those who are not familiar with the safety measures taken to secure tradings can fall victim to virtual extortion, market manipulation, and other forms of fraud. The education on how to protect your finances while getting involved with crypto should be taught to users of all skill levels so that the new currency can be a more widely accepted, more secure method. 

Aside from security risks, investors also face the problem of technological differences. Because every blockchain is different and not all forms of crypto follow the same structure, there is a lot of complexity when it comes to the use of currencies. Investing in a number of different currencies could be beneficial and expand one’s handle of the crypto. It does, however, pose the threat of confusing users to the point where they make the wrong moves during the wrong periods. Similarly, people may be eager to dedicate a large sum of money to crypto without understanding the tax implications to follow. Because the IRS counts virtual currencies as property, digital coins can be subject to capital gains taxes that some may not be expecting if they sell. 

In addition to the user risks, some studies have found that Bitcoin and other top cryptocurrencies are a lot more harmful towards the environment than once thought to be. The Digiconomist states that Bitcoin’s yearly energy consumption was up to 73.2 TWh in early 2020, its carbon footprint 34.76 megatonnes of carbon dioxide. As more comport actions invest in the expansion of crypto, there will likely be a call to energy regulation so that the money of the future will have a future to succeed in. 

Although cryptocurrency poses a few risks to those who want to invest, there is room for improvement. Through a bit more regulation, an increase in the education around digital coin, and a look into decreasing its energy consumption, cryptocurrency has the potential to become a main source of exchange. 


Going Crypto: Five Businesses That Are Accepting Cryptocurrency as Forms of Payment

Culture Hack

Culture Hack

Going Crypto: Five Businesses That Are Accepting Cryptocurrency as Forms of Payment

When Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency, first came out in 2009, no one really understood the purpose of it. If it wasn’t a tangible currency or even something that involved banks, then it seemed too fake to be taken seriously. But over a decade later, there are over 4,000 different types of cryptocurrencies in existence, bitcoin still the most recognizable among the masses. And though it’s still a fairly niche currency with only 106 million people worldwide taking advantage of the different digitized tokens, the form payment is on the rise as a new common option. 

In the past few months, a few companies have expanded their accepted payment types to include cryptocurrency. Whether consumers are purchasing an experience, clothing, or even food items, they will have the option to use funds from their digital wallets. As they evolve in their relationship with crypto, they pave the way for other businesses to see the future of money as the success of their company.

PayPal

A product of the early days of contemporary tech mecca Silicon Valley, PayPal has operated as an online payments system since 1998. It gives people easier access to money transfers, helping to avoid the use of checks and traditional paper money orders. With a few taps on the screen, you can use PayPal to reimburse or invoice someone as well as swiftly and securely pay for goods on other websites. And now, once you’re ready to checkout, crypto is an option. 

In March, PayPal launched Checkout with Crypto: a new option on its platform that allowed customers to pay with digitized currencies for select online purchases. On top of using crypto for payment, customers can also learn more about and track crypto through the PayPal app, giving consumers who aren’t as familiar with the rising currency to gain knowledge and put it to use. Because PayPal is an option for payment on a plethora of different online stores, this means that crypto can be used for nearly any kind of purchase.

Starbucks

Seattle-founded coffee giant Starbucks can be found in nearly every neighborhood in every US city, as well as a few global locations. As part of its rule over the fast coffee industry, the company connects with its consumers through a rewards system that allows anyone to pre-order coffee online and earn points while they do so. Their new move towards the future of currency is another way of keeping their fans close. 

The company recently announced that customers can use Bitcoin, gift cards, and even airline rewards miles to reload their Starbucks cards through the rewards app. Backed by digital asset platform Bakkt, Starbucks allows customers to convert their cryptocurrency into U.S. dollars and then transfer the value onto the payment system of the app. While this technically isn’t a payment through bitcoin, it still allows consumers to practice their use of crypto for day-to-day purchases like a latte. 

Lush Cosmetics

Known for their exciting bath bombs and all-natural skincare products, Lush Cosmetics has been a reliable source of clean cosmetics for decades. The brand promotes wellness and relaxation through products that brighten up the normal care routine. Just like they’ve been ahead of the skincare game, Lush has been a friend of crypto since 2017.

Four years ago, Lush started accepting crypto currency, suggesting that the form of payment would be just as common as cash, card, and phone. Through bitcoin, customers can buy their favorites through Lush’s online store, providing worldwide consumers with a flare rate that is unaffected by foreign exchange fluctuations. The company’s reason for making the move so early was because it felt like society was moving into a new digital era — and they wanted to be prepared. 

Time Magazine

One of the most important publications, Time has been providing people with information about the people and issues moving our world. True to its up-to-date nature, Time recently released its first NFT cover, planning to sell three NFTs in a digital auction on SuperRare as well. As it makes the move to digitized content, the publication will also begin to accept digital payment. 

In May, the magazine and its website will accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment for subscriptions. Now, consumers that receive their news digitally will be able to maintain their memberships through digitized tokens. This inclusion comes after Time’s President Keith Grossman suggesting that other media companies will struggle with adjusting to crypto beyond NFTs and collectibles.

Visa 

At the end of March, Visa — the American multinational financial corporation — announced that it would accept the use of cryptocurrency USD Coin to settle transactions on the payment network. After a successful trial run via crypto platform Crypto.com, the finance business has chosen USDC rather than the popularized Bitcoin because of its stability and direct connection to the U.S. dollar value system. 

According to the company, consumers will be able to make purchases using a cryptocurrency wallet via Crypto.com which will have access to the wiring options for Visa. This latest addition to its crypto plan will rid of the need to convert digital coin into traditional funds and vise versa.

 

As tech evolves, we should be learning to adjust to the services it offers us, whether it be collecting one-in-one digital goods or using bitcoin to pay for a coffee order. Will you participate in the recent move to cryptocurrency? 


Real Estate Firm Owned by California Billionaire will Allow Tenants to Pay Rent With Bitcoin

Culture Hack

Zeitgeist

Real Estate Firm Owned by California Billionaire will Allow Tenants to Pay Rent With Bitcoin

Founder of Caruso Real Estate Rick Caruso recently announced that his firm will now allow their tenants to pay for rent using Bitcoin. The CEO stated that cryptocurrency is not going anywhere and that it’s time for businesses to invest in the future and to be part of the tech evolution. This recent development is part of an institutional movement to adopt bitcoin use, contributing to the digital coin’s soar in prices over the past few months. 

 

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